‘Industries of the future’ on skills summit agenda

Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

Australia’s inaugural Jobs and Skills Summit will explore ways to develop a highly skilled inclusive workforce that can take advantage of emerging technologies like renewables, digitisation and advanced manufacturing.

An issues paper released Wednesday to set the tone for the Canberra summit lists “maximising industries of the future” as one of five key themes.

The other themes centre on employment and productivity, job security and wages, workforce participation, and labour force quality.

Unions, employers, universities, scientists, civil society and government will share the Jobs and Skills Summit’s 100-odd invites, and look to develop immediate and long term solutions to Australia’s economic challenges like the tightening labour market and slowing productivity.

The summit will lead to an employment white paper which the wider public will have an opportunity to contribute to. The full consultations are expected to lead to significant reforms, but the Treasurer has also flagged summit ideas could make their way into the October budget.

“Australians are paying too hefty a price for a decade of division, wasted opportunities and warped priorities,” Jim Chalmers said Wednesday.

“Through the Summit and beyond, we are serious about bringing people together from right across the community to find common ground.”

The short issues paper explains the five themes and poses a series of questions for participants to consider for the summit.

On future industries, the paper asks for ways to share the benefits from structural changes like decarbonation without leaving out regions or certain groups of people, including women, whose participation rate in STEM-qualified occupations was just 13 per cent in 2020.

The paper notes a “remarkable history of innovation” in Australia but a need to invest in the “next generation of high value-adding jobs”.

“As an advanced economy, there is a greater opportunity for Australia to invest in the high value-added pre- and post-production stages of manufacturing,” the paper said.

Industry and Science minister Ed Husic this week convened five invite-only industry roundtables in preparation for the summit, which will have an even more exclusive guest list.

Mr Husic will hosted two roundtables on Wednesday, one focused on Digital and Tech Skills and the other on Science and Commercialisation. He will host two on Thursday, with the first focused on Advanced Manufacturing and the other meeting with Industrial Unions.

A final roundtable is scheduled for Friday focused on Artificial Intelligence.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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